Booz Allen's Toni Hudson Honored for Work in Biosurveillance

Nov 13, 2020 8:00 AM ET
Booz Allen Associate Toni Hudson received CBRNE Industry Group's Dr. Billy Richardson Award for excellence in research

The global community has been hard at work to combat and minimize potential impacts of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), from coordination among NATO countries, to signing the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018 in the United States.

This important work includes a specialized focus on countering CBRNE weapons, an acronym for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives. 

Booz Allen Associate and epidemiologist Toni Hudson has dedicated her career to biological defense – the “B” in CBRNE. She leads a biosurveillance team for the firm’s Joint Combatant Command business and helps government programs strengthen their preparedness for biological terrorism and naturally occurring infectious disease emergencies.

In October, the CBRNE Industry Group awarded Hudson with the Dr. Billy Richardson Award, its annual recognition for research excellence and contributions to the future of the industry by professionals under age 35. 

“We were lucky enough at Booz Allen to have Toni join our Norfolk office and then our biological threat reduction program,” said Booz Allen Senior Fellow and Principal William King, who Chairs the CBRNE Industry Group. “She has the passion and desire to make a positive difference, which is what the Dr. Billy Richardson award is all about.”

“It’s incredible to have the opportunity to work with brilliant individuals with such a vast range of experiences, and it’s an honor to be able to contribute to this field,” said Hudson.

Empowering future STEM professionals

As part of Hudson’s award, the CBRNE Industry Group contributed $1,000 in her name to the Science and Math Academy at Aberdeen High School in Maryland aimed at helping inspire and support the next generation of STEM professionals.

Hudson’s interest in science began as a teenager when a mysterious infection sent her brother to the hospital for several days.

“I was curious as to what microbe could have caused such symptoms,” she said. “I was up many nights doing research to figure it out. Little did I know I was an epidemiologist in training.”

After studying at Georgetown and Tulane Universities, Hudson worked as an epidemiologist in Orlando, Florida, where she gained experience studying rare diseases from around the world.

From tracking a felon to fighting WMDs 

A fugitive on the run led Hudson to her current position at Booz Allen. In Orlando, her team received three alerts within 24 hours for the same rare disease—a disease that was also classified as a potential biological weapon. The FBI and Florida Department of Health got involved in an investigation that led to a felon checking into one hospital three different times under three different names. 

“This could have been a biological terrorist attack,” Hudson said. “Having the opportunity to work with other agencies in a multi-sectoral effort was an incredible experience. It was eye-opening, and it made me more interested in the CBRNE field.”

This interest led to Booz Allen, first as an epidemiologist supporting the firm’s Navy and Marine Corps business and then to her current position supporting the Biological Threat Reduction Program within the Department of Defense.

Hudson serves as a technical advisor on the development and implementation of biosurveillance systems around the world, managing a team of medical doctors, nurses, veterinarians, epidemiologists, and health information technology specialists.

“It has been inspiring to work on a wide range of projects aimed at protecting the health security of our nation, from determining country-level biosurveillance capacities and capabilities to testing national-level preparedness to respond to public health events of international concern  through simulation exercises,” she said, “I absolutely enjoy my job and the people I work with.”

Learn more about how Booz Allen, an industry leader in the field of counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD), brings innovation to the nation's military services and beyond.